Ford Fairlane (Australia)

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Ford Fairlane
2005-2007 Ford BF Fairlane Ghia
Automotive industryFord Motor Company of Australia
Production1960–2007
AssemblyCampbellfield, Victoria
Car classificationFull-size car
Car body style4-door Sedan (car)
See also Ford Fairlane (North American)

The Ford Fairlane is a large, luxury Automobile which was built by Ford Australia between 1959 and December 2007.

From 1959 to 1964 the Fairlane was a locally assembled version of the American Ford Fairlane which had taken its name from Henry Ford's estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan. This was Ford Australia’s top of the range luxury model until replaced by an Australian assembled version of the full size American Ford Galaxie. In 1967 Ford Australia reintroduced the Fairlane, this time as an Australian developed luxury, long-wheelbase version of its mainstream Falcon, positioned between the Falcon and the Galaxie. The Galaxie evolved into the locally assembled LTD which was itself replaced in 1973 by an Australian developed model, also known as the Ford LTD. The Fairlane continued as a luxury model between the Falcon and the LTD until its demise in late 2007.

Contents

Australian assembled U.S. Fairlanes


The "Tank" Fairlane

The Fairlane was assembled in Australia from 1959 where it replaced the Customline as the company's top model line. This was almost identical to the 1959 US Fairlane (commonly referred to as the "tank" Fairlane), but the parts were sourced through Ford of Canada. Initially it was offered as the Custom 300 sedan and as the Fairlane 500 sedan and was joined in September 1960 by the Ranch Wagon. These featured a 332 cu. in V8.

The "Compact" Fairlane

From April 1962 the smaller US "compact" Fairlane 500 was introduced and a 221 cu. in V8 was offered in lieu of the 332. There were two sedans for 1964, with either a 260 cu. in or a 289 cu. in V8. The '64s were the last Fairlanes to be assembled in Australia from designs identical to the North American model of the same name. Model changes also tended to follow the US models.

Australian Fairlanes


First generation (1967–1972)

1970–1972 Ford ZD Fairlane 500.
1970–1972 Ford ZD Fairlane 500.

The ZA series, introduced in March 1967, was designed and built in Australia although it resembled the American Fairlane sedan of that year. Offered as the Fairlane and the Fairlane 500, it was essentially a stretched version of the Falcon XR Series, but used an American bodyshell. The body was lengthened through the rear door area. It was equipped with either a 200 cu. in six or a 289 cu. in V8, the smaller engine available with manual or automatic transmission and the V8 only with an automatic.

A model change to the ZB Series in March 1968 saw the 289 cu. in grow to 302 cu. in, the top model being the Fairlane 500 with the larger engine. The base model was now known as the Fairlane Custom. [1]

The facelifted ZC Series of 1969 (from July) had the Fairlane Custom as the base model, with either a 221 cu. in or 302 cu. in engine. The range-topping 500 model featured either a 302 cu in. or 351 cu. in V8. Interestingly, the ZCs featured stacked headlamps, rather than the standard four headlamps of earlier years, harking back to the 1966 - 67 US models.

The ZD Series were released in November 1970 for the 1971 Model year. The base engine became a 250 cu. in unit, while the 302 and 351 remained, the latter found only in the Fairlane 500. Externally, there were new tail lights, new plastic grill with a metal surround and new boot garnish. Internally there were new door trim patterns and the speedo backing was now black instead of the silver used on ZC's.

The ZC and ZD were basically stretched versions of the XW and XY series Ford Falcons respectively, with the extra length added behind the rear door, moving the rear seat back and giving more leg room.

Second generation (1972–1979)

An all-new, 100% Australian-designed ZF Series Fairlane was launched in April 1972, with swoopier bodywork, but there were criticisms that it looked too much like a four-headlamp version of the basic Falcon. The ZF Fairlanes were joined by an even more upscale LTD, with hidden headlamps and vinyl roof. Model names remained the same (Custom and 500), as did the engine choices, as the previous model year. The 1973 ZF also saw the last manual transmission; afterwards, all Fairlanes would be automatics.

November 1973 saw the next series of changes, to the ZG series. The changes were mainly cosmetic, with a four horizontal bar grille and revised tail lights.

An anniversary model was released in 1975 with the 302 cu. in, but otherwise the range stayed the same as the '74s.

The ZH Series addressed earlier complaints about the Fairlane being too close to the Falcon in May 1976. The designers retained the same central section as the XC series Falcon (including that car's new rear doors) but put on lengthened front and rear ends, giving the car more bulk and a luxury impression. The styling was reminiscent of the 1968 Mercury Marquis. The range-topping LTD went further upmarket with a fancy, Rolls-Royce car-inspired grille. (It was not dissimilar to that found on the Lincoln Continental Mark V.) Another sign of the upmarket move was the 500 becoming the basic trim (the Custom was deleted), and the Fairlane Marquis being the upscale version. The Marquis was Ford's response to Statesman (automobile), which was introduced in 1974 as an LTD rival. ZH also moved to the use of the metric system to denote the engine sizes: the basic engine was the 4.9L, with a 5.8L option. All ZH Marquis built after January 1979 had borg warner diffs not the 9 inch.

Third generation (1979–1988)

Ford would wait until May 1979 before updating the Fairlane to the ZJ Series. This model was a leap ahead into the new decade, with squared-off lines and a six-light bodyshell, clearly distinguished from the new Falcon of that year. The trim levels were deleted: there was now only a single Fairlane, with 4.9L or 5.8L V8 engine choices. In October, recognizing the fuel crisis, Ford introduced a Fairlane with a 4.1L inline six from the Falcon.

The ZK Series of 1982 saw the deletion of the 5.8L V8, which was the first sign the company would no longer offer bent-eights in the local line-up.

The following year, the 4.9L V8 was deleted, although Ford introduced a Fuel injection version of the six to compensate for its market-place absence, claiming the new engine had a greater power output than the eight. But buyers did not really have a choice: Holden had exited the long-wheelbase, full-size sedan market with the cancellation of the Statesman. The revised ZL Series of 1985 (launched October 1984) kept the two six-cylinder engine options. It was only at the end of 1986 that the carburettor version of the Fairlane was deleted.

Fourth generation (1988–1999)

1995–1996 Ford NF Fairlane Ghia sedan.

June 1988 saw the next major revision: the Fairlane's straight edges gave way to gentle curves. The philosophy was the same: a long-wheelbase Falcon with a six-light body. The 4.1L six was heavily revised, becoming a 3.9L unit with improved fuel economy and power. These models were part of the EA26 development programme and platform (E for the market segment, A for Australia, 26 the project code). Therefore, officially they were EA26s, but colloquially, Ford aficionados prefer a two-letter code. Hence, the new Fairlanes were given the NA Series code.

Revisions from November 1989 for the 1990 model year saw the release of the 'NA II', the most notable change being the fitting of a four-speed, rather than three-speed, automatic transmission. (Since the Fairlane's début it had a three-speed.)

Although Ford Australia's official historian, Adrian Ryan, is emphatic there was never officially an NB Series Fairlane, at least one early 1989 prototype fitted with a four speed automatic escaped from the factory bearing a compliance plate marked "NB" and was registered as an "NB Fairlane". Ford also produced an alloy wheel identification guide poster for its parts counters listing one wheel as being for an "NB Sportsman Fairlane" and it seems likely that at one point the Series II NA was going to be called the NB. Third party parts suppliers also often list both an "NB Fairlane" an "NB - Series II Fairlane" in their parts catalogues adding to the NB mystery. DOTARS (the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services) has no record of giving Ford approval to use an "NB Fairlane" compliance plate for a production model which might explain Ford's reluctance to officially ackowledge the "NB".

August 1991 saw the news that many Fairlane purists had awaited: the reintroduction of the V8, in the NC Series. Ford had never recovered from deleting the V8s in the 1980s and bowed to public pressure with its reintroduction. The 5 litre engine was identical to the one used in the United States. The inline six continued. The NC also introduced a higher-spec Fairlane, called the Fairlane Ghia, and it was in this model that the V8 was available.

The 1992 NC IIs redesignated the 3.9L engine a '4 litre', but trim levels remained the same.

To appeal to younger buyers, Ford briefly sold a Fairlane Sportsman Ghia in 1993 with a "Tickford" tuned 4 litre six used in the Falcon XR6.

In 1994, the base model was deleted, leaving only the Ghia.

The Fairlane was rebodied in 1995 (EA77 series in Ford-speak), but remained on the same platform. The new NF Series was longer and curvier, hiding its 1980s origins reasonably well. The exterior design was more ornamental compared to the relatively clean NAs to NCs. The Sportsman reappeared for 1996, with the same formula as 1993, with the 4 litre six.

In September 1996, the revised NL Series appeared, without the Sportsman.

In 1997, Ford introduced a higher Fairlane Concorde trim, with the same 4 litre and 5 litre engine choices.

For customers, 5 Dealer modified NL Series Fairlanes from Sydney and Melbourne utilized parts from the 5 litre Mustang Cobra and Australian Delivered SVO parts due to the limited edition run of the Fairlane by Tickford and customers wanting to maintain the Luxury look but sport the GT's performance.

Ford expanded the Fairlane range greatly in 1998. Beginning with the Ghia, there was also a basic Concorde (six-cylinder) and Concorde Ghia (V8). A Tickford-modified version was also available, with the larger engine, as well as a luxurious Fairlane Special Edition Ghia.

  • In the early 1990s, the Falcon Utilities were still of the previous generation XF. A prototype EB Falcon utility was made which looked Fairlane based. To impart a look of solidness, the Ute had a Fairlane frontal treatment. It did not enter production.
  • An idea proposed in the late 1980s was a Fairlane Wagon. Most likely, had it entered production, it would have used the Falcon wagon (which rode on the Fairlane's wheelbase) body, coupled with the Fairlane's front clip.

Fifth generation (1999–2007)

Ford introduced its New Edge look to the Fairlane in February 1999, with some success, though the EA169 series (called AU Series colloquially) was considered a flop, allowing rival Holden to overtake the company in the sales of full-size cars. The AU Fairlane, sharing the code with the Falcon for the first time, had Lincoln Town Car styling cues, especially around the C-pillar. The range was pared back to six- and eight-cylinder Ghias, though there was a limited-edition Millennium Ghia in December 1999.

Ford brought forward revisions to the Falcon and Fairlane ranges when market acceptance of the new cars proved poor in July 2000. The 2001 model year AU II models featured some improvements, and another limited edition was offered: the 75th Anniversary Ghia in October, with the same engine choices as before. The Sportsman Ghia was revived in March 2001 and lasted for more than one model year this time, remaining in the range to the end of 2002.

Ford's new attempt to battle Holden came in July 2003 with the BA Series. The BA Fairlanes were closer to the Falcon in looks, even sharing the tail lights. The 5 litre gave way to the larger 5.4L, already used in the US. To capture younger buyers, the G220 (denoting its 220 Kilowatt power output) took the place of the Sportsman, and featured the larger engine only. The traditional automatic gearbox was replaced by a Tiptronic. The Fairlane Ghia continued as the base model.

In 2005 the BF Series was introduced with the G220 renamed G8 in relation to its eight cylinder engine.

As sales of recent variants began to decline, speculation swirled regarding the future of the Fairlane. It was finally announced on 10 May 2007 that the Fairlane would be discontinued. Poor sales had made development of the line unsustainable.

References


  1. Glass's Dealer Guide, SA & NT Edition, June 1973, pages 56-57

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